Life constantly throws challenges and hurdles in our path. Most adults have ways of dealing with tough situations. Sometimes our coping strategies are healthy, other times they are not, but chances are we learnt a lot about how to overcome adversity from our childhood .
Often out of love, we protect children from hard situations. I recently shared how I kept my son home from a school sports carnival because he was distressed at the prospect of attending. I had my reasons for doing that, however it does not mean I intend to shelter him forever from all the hard stuff in life (and it certainly doesn’t mean I didn’t turn it into a life lesson).
To give our children the best chance, we need to teach them they can handle adversity. A situation might be hard, unpleasant and even sometimes traumatic, however some things cannot be avoided and quitting may not be an option. Helping your child to build resilience, problem solve and deal with responsibility are important lessons in helping them face and overcome adversity.
To parents some issues facing our children may seem trivial. But even if something seems like a non-issue to us that does not mean it isn’t a big deal for the child facing it.
Whether it is a hard homework assignment, mastering a physical skill, dealing with a personal conflict or some bigger issue, here are some ways you can help your child learn to deal with tough situations:
- Validate their feelings – Let them know it’s ok to feel scared, frustrated, overwhelmed or whatever they are feeling. Owning and mastering those feelings is big part of the process.
- Teach them perspective – While keeping the above point in mind, help your child see the challenge for what it is. Sometimes it might not be as big an issue as they have made it in their mind.
- Encourage them to break the problem into manageable chunks – Looking at a problem as a whole can be overwhelming. Organisation tools such as lists or charts can be a valuable way to help your child visualise the problem and the tasks involved.
- Teach them persistence – When something is hard quitting often seems like the easiest option. Talk to them about the consequences of giving up and the rewards if they keep going. Provide encouragement and support.
- Push them to try new things – A child who is regularly challenged and used to being pushed past their comfort zone will be more prepared to face unfamiliar or difficult situations.
- Teach them its ok to fail – A fear of failure is often what holds us back from taking on difficult things. We can’t be successful at everything all the time, and dealing with disappointment is an important lesson.
Above all, be a good role model for your child. They will see how you deal with life’s challenges and there is a very high chance your strategies will become their strategies too.